Sunday, October 19, 2008

Charitable Donations Raise Questions of Improper Political Influence by Donors on Lawmakers

On October 19, 2008, the New York Times published an interesting article about the influence that donors (mostly corporate) have as a result of donating to lawmakers' charitable causes.  The article highlights donations to a Pennsylvania charity that supports an opera house that is a favorite of Pennsylvania Congressman John P. Murtha's wife, Joyce Murtha.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

They do not seem the most likely classical music patrons: Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeing and Lockheed Martin.

But together, these defense contractors are donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to the symphony orchestra in Johnstown, Pa., underwriting performances of Mozart and Wagner in this struggling former steel town. A defense lobbying firm, the PMA Group, even sprang for a Champagne reception at the symphony’s opera festival last month.

Company representatives say they are being generous corporate citizens. But the orchestra is also a beloved charity of Representative John P.Murtha, Democrat of Pennsylvania, whose Congressional committee hands out lucrative defense contracts, and whose wife, Joyce, is a major booster of the symphony.

“She just loves knowing that we have an orchestra that is the quality of a larger city orchestra,” the symphony executive director, Patricia Hofscher, said of Mrs. Murtha. “Her friends have come here and been impressed by the quality of the orchestra in a geographic and economic region that, let’s face it, are not on the beaten path.”

For the entire article, see "Gifts to Pet Charities Keep Lawmakers Happy" in the October 19, 2008, issue of the New York Times.


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